Chile’s flourishing market for indigenous medicine

Mapuche flag Copyright: Woods Hole Research Center

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The Mapuche people, Chile’s largest indigenous group, are seeing a return to the use of their traditional medicines and food, creating businesses and jobs that could help them fight their way out of poverty.

In this article, Daniela Estrada describes how, in an initiative backed by the Chile’s health ministry, Mapuche traditional medicine has spread throughout the country as a complement to Western medicine.

The indigenous medicines, made from 47 native plants diluted in water and alcohol, are used in combination with modern medical practices to treat more than 50 diseases. The therapies are now sold in four pharmacies and one hospital, and their developers are seeking patents for the products.

Rosalino Moreno Catrilaf, an entrepreneur who is at the centre of new Mapuche enterprises plans to open a holistic health centre that treats patients through Mapuche techniques.

The Mapuche represent 87 per cent of Chile’s indigenous people, and four per cent of Chile’s total population.

Link to full Inter Press Service News Agency news story

Read more about this topic in SciDev.Net’s indigenous knowledge dossier.